3 Lessons From Our First Year of Marriage

Today, June 11th, 2018, is my one year wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband Josh.

This day last year was the most exciting, nerve-wracking, joyful day of my life.

It was also the day that my relationship with Josh completely changed, going from a starry-eyed long distance engaged couple to a married, cohabitating, we’re-in-this-together partnership.

It was amazing and scary all at the same time.

One day I’ll have to tell the story about how Josh and I met. But today I want to talk about what I’ve learned from being married for a year.

I’ve heard people say that your first year of marriage is the hardest.

If that’s true then Josh and I are in good shape. This year wasn’t that hard. In fact it was pretty great. (Though to be fair I don’t believe it’s universally true that the first year of marriage is the hardest.)

But there were some tough times, and those challenges primarily had to do with learning the three lessons I’m about to share with you.

Growing as a person can be really painful as it’s happening, but it’s great to look back and say “wow, I really am a better, stronger, more loving person having gone through that tough season!”

Those of you who have been married much longer, give me some grace… try not to roll your eyes too much at how “naive” I am while you’re reading this post!

I may come back in a year or two and say “wow look how young and dumb I was”… but for now this is my truth.

And those of you ladies who are single, dating, or about to get married, I hope these lessons I’ve learned will help you better prepare for an amazing married life with your hubby-to-be.

Marriage is awesome and such a worthwhile endeavor but be prepared for it to challenge you and change you in ways you never imagined!

Okay, ready to hear my first year of marriage progress report? Read on for the top 3 lessons I’ve learned after my first year of marriage!

1. Don’t be afraid to speak up

When people say communication is everything in a marriage, I think they’re on to something.

The biggest reason I fell in love with Josh when we met was his willingness to be vulnerable and open with me, and how safe I felt doing the same with him.

Considering we only spoke on the phone for the first 6 weeks of our relationship, and I knew within 2 weeks I was going to marry him, you can see why our ability to communicate was so important!

However even with that level of comfort around communication, something about living together, being physically intimate together, and sharing finances together makes communication more difficult.

Suddenly (basically overnight) we had to work through communicating around sex, personal space, boundaries, finances, and personal values in a way that never really came up during our pre-marriage relationship.

It’s something that as a Christian you can’t fully prepare for, since you can’t “test drive” things like sex and living together before getting married. You kind of just get plopped into this high level of intimacy which can be a little overwhelming.

Now I certainly don’t regret the choices we made prior to marriage. I’m so grateful that we had the covenant of marriage to protect us while we were working through the challenges in the first few months of being married. I can’t imagine how we would have survived those had we been sleeping together and then living together while we were just dating.

But I also recognize the unique challenge faced by those of us who “level up” our intimacy in such a significant way when our relationship changes so quickly after the wedding.

I had to learn how to be comfortable talking about things that were hard. I had to learn how to ask my husband thoughtful questions that helped me understand his emotions and perspective better. I had to be open and honest about sensitive topics like sex and money, the two topics that challenged me the most this year.

So after a year of being married, even though I know we have a lot to learn (and just WAIT until kids are in the picture!) I do believe we’ve gotten a lot better at openly sharing with each other even when it would be easier to keep it to ourselves and build walls around our hearts.

I truly believe your husband should be the one person you feel can talk to about anything without fear of judgment or backlash.

It’s great to have girlfriends who provide that safe place, but your husband HAS to be that for you too. If you’re still single, look for a man who you feel that way around. If you’re not single, look for ways to start building more emotional intimacy with the most important human relationship in your life.

I’m so thankful that Josh and I can talk about hard stuff, and even disagree, but that we never worry the other person doesn’t care or is going to make us feel ashamed about our feelings. Having him as my ultimate “safe space” has allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined!

first year of marriage

2. Know when to stay quiet

I know I just told you to speak up, but this one is for my sisters who have an opinion about EVERYTHING.

As a newlywed, I really had to learn when to keep my mouth shut. There are some things that just aren’t worth going to bat over.

Some of those things include:

  • What my husband is wearing
  • Whether he’s going to the gym often enough
  • What he’s eating
  • How much he’s eating
  • What he’s doing with his free time after work
  • What time he’s going to bed
  • What time he’s waking up
  • How many times he’s watching that same superhero movie this weekend
  • How fast he washes the dishes after dinner

You get the idea…

I learned this year that frequently it’s better to keep my opinions to myself and not constantly tell my husband what to do with the goal of “improving his life”.

Yes I want him to be healthy. Yes I want him to grow spiritually, mentally, and physically. Yes I want us to communicate our desires around chores and splitting the housework.

But do I really need to tell him that I hate the shirt he has on?

Or that he doesn’t need to watch Thor for a second time this weekend?

As someone who is constantly in the throes of “self improvement” it can be really tempting to try to get your partner to have the same philosophy on life.

And being an outspoken “Jersey Girl” at heart, it can be a struggle to keep my opinions to myself.

But one of the things I love about my husband is he doesn’t take things as seriously as I do. He is serious about loving and providing for his family, but he doesn’t care if his shoes are a little tattered, or if his body fat percentage isn’t in the single digits.

It’s actually been great for me to learn how to not be such a perfectionist, to focus on the things that truly matter, and especially to not be so focused on appearances.

I have a “fixer” personality which works well in my business (since I love helping people solve their problems). But it doesn’t work so well when you’re constantly “fixing” problems that your spouse didn’t ever see as a problem!

So if you’re like me, and have a tendency to be a little too bossy sometimes, it’s worth learning how to keep quiet when it’s appropriate.

Pick your battles, and if you absolutely must comment on what your husband is doing, ensure it’s coming from a place of love and wanting to grow the relationship. Not simply to control his behavior or his appearance.

first year of marriage

3. Patience (and persistence) are virtues

Another thing I have discovered after being married for a year is that I’m not a patient person.

What I mean is that I have a really hard time waiting for the things I want. I am definitely a go-getter and don’t like when something I’m working towards isn’t happening the way I want it to.

I want our debt paid off NOW. I want our 4 bedroom house with the large fenced in yard NOW. I want our financial freedom to travel NOW. I want our sex life to work like clockwork NOW.

There’s nothing wrong with having goals like this. I want our finances and our sex life to be 100% healthy. And working persistently towards those goals is good.

But feeling frustration that everything isn’t perfect immediately is not good. And it can put a dark cloud over a period of life that’s special and can’t be recreated.

Now that I’ve been married for a year, I’ve realized that trying to rush the process of building our life together is a waste of energy and leaves me feeling less content with how things currently are.

This is time I can’t get back, and I don’t want to waste it looking ahead to the next accomplishment I want to tick off.

The expectation that life should be perfect is a great way to feel ungrateful for what’s good in your life right now.

When I was single I felt like I had a lot more control over making things exactly how I wanted them to be. My finances were mine, my body was mine, my time was mine, and I had 100% control over the decisions I made in these areas.

When I got married, suddenly there was another person with his own desires, goals, baggage, challenges, and strengths to throw into the mix.

I couldn’t just do what worked for me anymore. Now I had him to consider as well. And it brought some frustration when I couldn’t just make my own (selfish) decisions anymore.

I’m learning to be patient with our dreams, persistent with working on the areas of our lives that matter, and content with where we’re at in our lives.

I have a wonderful husband, a great job, a comfortable home, and a healthy body. There’s no reason I need to feel impatient about checking off the next accomplishment in my life.

And my first year of marriage has taught me how to slow down and savor this phase of our lives that won’t last forever.

What’s Next For Year 2?

So those are my 3 lessons from this year!

Josh is truly the best thing that’s ever happened to me (other than meeting Jesus of course) and our relationship is the most important one I have with any other person.

And now that we’re a year in, I’m slowly starting to wean myself off the slight codependence I’ve developed from having such a great husband. (#sorrynotsorry)

I got a little lazy just wanting to be around Josh all the time, and wasn’t making the time to see my girl friends the way I did when I was single. Now I’m realizing the value of us each having our own same-sex friendships outside of our marriage.

It’s important to both of us that we continue to be our own people while we’re also enjoying the “oneness” that comes from marriage.

So my goal for Year 2 is to learn how to keep our marriage healthy and happy while still pursuing my other relationships, growing my circle of female friends especially, and finding my role in our greater community that we’re a part of.

I feel like we’ve found a nice groove and I’m excited to see what lies ahead for this next year as we pursue our dreams and build our bigger tribe as true equal partners.

Alright, married friends… do you have any advice for me as we’re rounding the corner into year 2 of marriage? Share your thoughts and encouragement in the comments below!

first year of marriage

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  1. I wish you continuing miracles…from someone whose 50th anniversary will be celebrated soon. And thank you for all of your help and solid advice over the years. Be well and happy.
    meli

  2. As a mother-in-law, I feel so tremendously blessed to be able to get to know my daughter-in-law in a way that most mother-in-laws don’t get to. Your top three lessons are really important for a good marriage. I wouldn’t worry too much about advice for the future. You’re truly wise for your young age and making Jesus the most important one in your lives will help you both make the changes you need when the right time for them comes.

  3. Dear Laura
    I loved your article.
    It bought back memories of our first tear as husband and wife.
    My strongest memory of this time was our 1st Anniversary.
    We had just bought our first home and were broke. Every cent went towards all those things you have to do when buying a home.
    Bank fees, legal fees, utilities establishment, removalists etc etc and we forgot about setting a small amount of money to celebrate our 1st Anniversary.
    So I come home from work on the night of our anniversary, our house was in darkness. I waljed in to see Candlelight in the living room, I went to investigate and found my wife Suzanne standing there in her wedding dress, it was the most amazing surprise and that image is still with me 23 years later.
    Enjoy your anniversary, its these little things that matter and you will look back on with great fondness.
    Best Wishes
    David & Suzanne Meakin

  4. Amen! I have learned some of the VERY SAME lessons. And I completely agree about communication. It is key, essential, necessary, and can be scary, BUT VERY WORTH IT. Having been married now for 7 years. I believe year 5 to be challenging. You get comfortable with each other. You have to stay more on your toes about communication, anger, frustration. We were given the advise- “You are each other’s safest place, remember that. Tell each other everything, and before you run to someone else.” It has been the BEST COUNSELING. It has created a strong, biblical marriage for us. I am thrilled you learned this lessons in the first year. It will only strengthen your marriage. Enjoy year 2! Both the blessings and the challenges.

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